“Listen to your body”
I repeat this short powerful phase in classes with the hope that a person may hear it. However, more often than not I see people ignoring this piece of advice. As a result, I witness the most gentle, soft spoken, peaceful person being quite violent and brutally negligent of practising “Ahimsa” (non-violence to self).
How is it we can be so gentle, caring and understanding of the short comings of others but be totally intolerant to our own needs?
Why is it we push ourselves so hard? Instead of the healing warmth and glow a good practice normally brings we antagonise, irritate and force our body to move into an Asana? Feeding the ego and where it wants / believes we should go? As a result, we end up with a body that’s inflamed, screaming at us WHY? Why did you do that?!! What have I done to be so unloved, uncared for? All I am trying to do is protect and heal you!
These thoughts have been floating around my mind as twice this week I have seen this cruelty to self in class. Advice, prompts, instructions to soften, listen to the body, pull back, be gentle, all go unheeded. Internally I scream, please listen. Remember that the body keeps score.
Reflecting on my own journey…
It brought me to reflect back on my own journey through yoga and yes, I too have been guilty of not practising Ahimsa. Looking back as I forced my way into an asana, it was because I was avoiding facing something deep within myself. It was easier to push my physical body to feel pain before I could face my emotional pain head on. It took the death of my sister to realise this.
I love a strong power yoga practice, you know that kind of practice where energy is shifted moved and the body is opened, expanded, explored to its fullest capacity but in a loving meaningful way. Your soul is elevated, your spirit is free and your mind, body and soul come together in unison. It’s the heart and soul of what real yoga is.
Yoga has been such a huge part of my healing journey. It has been my support, comfort, security and one constant as I navigate my way through this life. I use it in some form every day both on and off the mat.
When my sister died my yoga changed. I tried to exhaust myself on every level so that I could not feel my deepest pain and loss. I certainly didn’t practice Ahimsa if anything I became my most violent, brutal self, punishing, lashing out, and hurting me.
But the body keeps score… mine had taken enough; shock was one thing but self-inflicted abuse was another and mine withdrew its support. Asana’s I could do without so much as a second thought became a huge effort. Stretching became painful, flexibility abandoned me and my body forced me to listen to what it was trying to say. I felt I dried up over-night. My lean muscles felt like shrivelled up old prunes. As a result, I didn’t recognise my own body which constantly ached all over. Moreover, it was trying to tell me that my heart felt the same way. I had to listen to my body, I was left with no choice, so my practice became very gentle and I ended up doing the one form of yoga I spent years on the run from…. Yin.
My classes changed, my sessions changed. I changed….
Looking back I now appreciate my body in a way I would never have learnt to if circumstances hadn’t been what they were. My body had been struggling to cope with shock, grief, fear, pain, loss. The last thing it needed from me was a gruelling powerful yoga work out, it needed nurturing, gentleness, time to absorb the shock, the pain, the heartache.
There are times, occasions when our bodies need us to sit, soften, let go and just be present with what is. Sometimes, we just need to sit on our mats and have a good cry, let it all out. We may need a power work out, or we may simply melt into an asana in the most gentlest way always meeting ourselves where we are on that particular day.
Something to live by…
EVERY time we come to our mats we come under a different set of circumstances, we ourselves are in a different place each time and our practice is no different.
Yoga can be one of the greatest gifts in your life, if you allow it to. It will show you where you are right now, not just in your life but in your body too. Remember your body right now is a true reflection of the life you are living at this present time.
So if I can offer one bit of advice, from one who has been there, done that and worn the T-shirt it is this….
Listen to your body…
What is it trying to tell you right now? What lesson can you take from what it is saying to you?
Can you be gentle in your practice, can you pull back and listen to what it is trying to say? Can you be as loving to yourself as you are with others? Please try and listen because if you do the rewards and healing will be so truly worth it.
Ahimsa…. Soften…. Relax…. Meet yourself where you are at right now… because it is ok, all is good and remember you are just following the guidance of your soul.
“Your soul is requiring you to heal deeper, to elevate past the hurt, to transcend beyond what happened, to let go of what and who no longer serves you, to protect your energy daily, to get the lesson, to master your thoughts and emotions, to forgive yourself, to love yourself unconditionally and to honor your body temple: all in order to thrive and vibrate higher daily.”
Namaste and Om shanti